Video SEO: How to Optimize for Search
Here at BX, we love producing high-end creative videos for our clients. Of course, we love it even more when those videos get results (and they’ve gotten some great results). Of course to get results, you need views. And for those, video SEO is a big factor in how many eyes get on the video you worked so hard to produce.
Video SEO is a different beast than website SEO. And while there is some overlap between the two, there are some unique factors to video SEO that you’ll need to know about before diving in. Read on to find out what video SEO is, and how you optimize it to achieve your marketing goals.
What is Video SEO?
So what exactly is it? Our friends over at Bend Marketing put it well:
“Video SEO is optimizing a video to be discovered, indexed, and ranked on a search engine results page for relevant keywords. All of these SEO best practices are important factors in creating a positive user experience for viewers that reach your channel and videos. Video as a whole is an instrumental component to any content plan, especially for improving SEO rankings.”
– Tyler Thompson, Co-founder of Bend Marketing
How to get your video indexed by Google
The first thing to know about Google SEO is that while any video can rank on the video tab, not all videos can rank in universal search (the All tab). Google is trying to put only the best, most relevant videos on its universal search page, so it looks at a variety of factors, such as your website authority, how much video content it has, and how it ranks in video search results.
Most importantly, search engines can’t index the video itself (they can’t “watch” the video in any way), so they rely on everything else they can discover about a video — its title, description, length, upload date, location of video file and thumbnail image. This is a big part of what makes video SEO unique.
Here’s how to get your video indexed:
Provide a video XML sitemap
You’ll want to tell search engines about every video you have on your website. To do this, you’ll provide a short description of the category, title, description, running time, and intended audience for each of your videos. Submit this on both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Use Video Object Schema Markup
When search engines crawl your page, they might find relevant words, but they don’t know exactly why they’re significant. Thankfully, you can supply this metadata about your video(s) using Schema.org markup language. Not only does this improve SEO but it improves the rich snippets that appear on search engines. One helpful tool to help you create the HTML code is Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Once you have the code, you can place it in your website’s code.
Use a video SEO plugin
Rather than doing that all yourself, you can enlist help from a developer, or use a service that does this for you. One of our favorites is Yoast, which has a Video SEO plugin that does much of what we discuss in this article for you, at a reasonable annual price.
How to optimize your video for search engines (SEO)
Getting your video indexed by Google is important, but there’s more you can and should do to make sure your video rises to the top of search results.
1. Choose a video hosting platform
The video platform you choose depends largely on your marketing goals. If you’re mostly concerned with creating awareness and providing thought leadership, YouTube and Vimeo are great options. If your main goal is to drive traffic to your website in order to get leads, you’ll want to host the video yourself or through Wistia so that the traffic is captured there. Either way, the most important thing is to make sure search engines have the metadata they need to index and rank your video.
YouTube and Vimeo
YouTube is owned by Google and is the second largest search engine. YouTube and Vimeo pages can and will show up in the organic search results if optimized well. However, this could take traffic away from your site and web pages. This can lead would-be customers to get lost or distracted.
Self-hosted or Wistia
Self-hosted videos are useful because when optimized it’s more likely that traffic and users will go to your company website. Wistia is another great option as they offer easy embeds and automatically inserts SEO metadata (VideoObject schema as explained above).
2. Optimize your video filename
Before you even upload your video, make sure that the file name itself uses the most important keyword that you want to rank for. Search engines and video platforms like YouTube read these, so it’s another place to make your keywords count.
3. Add a video transcript
A video transcript serves two important purposes. First, it makes your video more accessible by providing the text for captions. Second, it allows search engines to read the spoken and descriptions contained in your video. This is especially important for longer-form videos that will generate a lot of text, which all becomes indexable, and an SEO boost for your page.
4. Optimize your video title
You want your video title to be creative enough to make the reader curious enough to click, and at the same time include relevant target keyword(s) for SEO. If you have branding and episode numbers to include, you’ll want to include those at the end of the title so that the hook comes first. Aim to stay within 60 characters or less.
5. Optimize your video description
Just like the title, an optimized video description is a balance of an enticing description that explains what the video is about, as well as the relevant keywords you want to include. If you’re using YouTube, you’ll get 2,100 characters, meaning you’ll want to use the rest of the space to include additional content, such as a description of your organization, additional helpful links and resources, credits for who produced the video, and/or a table of contents for longer videos.
6. Create and add an enticing video thumbnail
Thumbnails can heavily influence whether or not searchers click. In this way, it’s even more important than the title. Research has shown that people are more compelled humans in the image, and by the most relevant picture related to their keyword. For example, if someone is searching for a type of workout, they’re more likely to click on a link that shows a human doing that exact workout, rather than simply text, an irrelevant photo, or a human who isn’t doing that exercise.
To make it stand out, consider doing a separate shoot to create the perfect thumbnail image, rather than using a screenshot of the video. You may even want to include some text in the image that helps sell it. Spec-wise, keep it under 2MB, 1280×720 pixels (a 16:9 ratio), and use a .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG format.
7. Add your video to a playlist
It’s a simple, yet effective way to direct viewers to the right content, especially if you have a significant amount of videos. Organize by topic, audience, campaign, product, service, or whatever way you believe your audience will consume your content.
8. Embed your video on a web page
It’s important to embed your video on your webpage, rather than using YouTube, to direct people to your website and then keep them there. A YouTube video on your site is easy to click out of to watch on YouTube’s website. Plus it’ll make suggestions of other videos that are relevant to your topic, even your competitor’s videos!
It’s important to know that Google typically only crawls one video on the page, so rather than trying to cram several on a webpage, make your video central to the page, put it at the top, and leave other videos for other pages.
Video SEO: Final Takeaways
This is one of those areas of marketing where a little work goes a long way. Do these things and you’ll start to see better results and more traffic to your videos. And if you liked this guide to video SEO, check out our video marketing guide as well.
We might know a thing or two about video SEO, but our passion is producing creative videos that you and your audience love. Hit us up for a conversation about your next video project.